296. keeping the dream alive!
So I’m still super busy. This week I’ve spent the past three nights out of four at our rehearsal studio after work, working on the new Harrison CD that we need to have done before our tour in July.
And truth be told, this is actually the second blog I’ve written this month. I won’t post the first one for reasons you’ll read about below and the only reason I’ve rushed to finish and post this one is because I really want to write a response to this post because I have lots I want to say on the topic.
So this is a bit of an unfinished post (as if my blogs are ever anything but), but stay tuned – another addition to the Dating & Relationships series is forthcoming.
So…um, being busy isn’t the only reason I haven’t been able to write lately. It’s also because the things I wanted to deal with in my writing had to do with people in my band – people whom I care about deeply. I knew I had some difficult things to say and to share about them but of course, the blogging thing is a very public forum and I didn’t want to air out dirty laundry where everyone could see.
But that creates a kind of problem for me because the way I think about and deal with problems is by writing about them and often, one of the few things that can motivate me to get to the hard work of writing is you, my readers. So, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant plan. I decided to write out my grievances as a blog entry but to not post it until I showed it to my band and got their permission to put it up.
That did the trick. I opened up the spigots of my sub-conscience and let loose a barrage of bile and accusation.
Now before I go on about what I wrote, let me say that my “method” of writing has to do with having an issue that’s unresolved in my mind and working through it by stringing words and ideas together. It’s been said that thought is parallel (your mind can process more than one idea at a time) while writing is far more serial (it can basically only deal with one idea at a time). With this band thing, I knew I had a lot of discontent brewing just below the surface, but when I started writing about it, I didn’t know, precisely, the source of my frustrations. And so I just began by putting down the first thing that came to mind on the topic and went from there.
It wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t fun which sucked because for the most part, while writing is seldom easy, it is almost always fun (a sick, self-torturturous kind of fun, but fun nevertheless). Dishing out the frustrations I had with my band was like squeezing the puss out of a cyst or boil – it was painful and it was ugly. But it was necessary. And to extend the analogy, once I started squeezing the poison out, I started to feel better.
For the most part, the things I was writing centered around the thought that the source of my frustrations was the feeling that all the hard work I had put (and continue to put) into the band was being taken for granted – I didn’t feel appreciated. I laid out example after example of why I felt this way. In the end I wound up with an entry that weighed in at four pages and almost 1,800 words. I finished the last bits of it in the hours before our Saturday rehearsal – I rushed the ending because I wanted to show it to the band and be done with it.
(As an aside, here’s some sage, free advice to anyone thinking about sharing their frustrations with friends in written form: don’t send the first draft!)
I showed up (late) to rehearsal and told them a bit about how I’d been feeling these last few months and then I told them about the blog entry that I wanted to post and gave them the copies I had printed out. We decided that they would read what I had written and discuss their take on the matter the next day before rehearsal.
The rest of that Saturday was odd for me. I wasn’t sure how my band would take the things I had written. I didn’t pull any punches. When given the choice between taking the direct, hurtful approach and the more subtle, passive approach, I chose the former. I took a bit of time out later in the day to re-read what I had written and I saw that there were things that I should have taken out or at least re-written. But it was too late for that and anyway, I figured maybe it was best that they got the unedited, unfiltered me.
Sunday was interesting. I’ll spare you the gory details (sorry to deny your voyeuristic curiosity but that’s privileged, band information) but suffice it to say that I was wrong about what I had written. I don’t just mean that I said some unfair, hurtful things which I apologized for, I mean the crux of my blog entry was wrong. The source of my frustrations wasn’t so much a lack of appreciation – the guys in the band know I put in a ton of work, even if they’re not the best at showing it – as it was the feeling that as a band we had lost our fire and passion and drive.
See, here’s the thing. I work my ass off for this band and I’ve invested a lot of my own money into items that benefit the band as a whole – this is on top of money I’ve put into my own musical gear. I didn’t feel pressured to get this equipment – nobody asked me to do it – I did so because I believe in this band. I pour myself into the band because, if you’ll allow me a moment of unbridled optimism, I truly believe that we have a chance at being the last monster band of the CD era or the first monster band of the internet era. And by monster, I mean the kind of band that crosses marketing boundaries and finds fans across a wide musical spectrum, the kind of band that people get tired of hearing because we’re everywhere, the kind of band that sells out arenas and stadiums, the kind of band that people ape in karaoke bars.
I believe it.
All of it.
And so I work my ass of for this band.
But I can’t do it by myself.
The thing that was killing me was not that I felt unappreciated, it was that I felt as if I was the only one left who believed enough in the band enough to sweat and work and sacrifice for it. Maybe it’s because the music scene is tougher than we anticipated. Maybe it’s because we miss a bit of home. Maybe it’s because all our personal differences and conflicts are heightened now that we’re in a new environment. Maybe it’s all of the above. Whatever the reason, these last few months it seems all the air had been let out of the Harrison balloon and our basket was in danger of running aground. We had lost sight of the prize and were doing just enough to get by.
I was a bit of an asshole in what I wrote about my band. They were gracious in forgiving me for it and the one really good thing (among others) that came out of it was that it reminded all of us that as a band we all have to continue to believe in what we came here for.
We didn’t leave the comforts of home and the support of friends to play tiny shows to tiny crowds in tiny parts of Seattle. We left home behind because we believed we could take over the world! At least that’s why I did it.
When I look back on my time in this band, I don’t want to remember that we came to Seattle and found the scene too hard to break into and so we just played what shows we could and gave up after a couple years. I want to remember that we gave every ounce of ourselves to make it happen and even if we never got to play stadiums or arenas, we gave it our all on every stage that would have us.
As a band, some of us (myself included) had forgotten about that dream, that purpose, that fire and that’s why I felt so frustrated at all the work I was doing for the band – because if I’m not doing it to fulfill a dream, then spending hours and hours working on recording, mixing, and editing so
ngs for a new CD is just building the Titanic.
I gave some action items to my band – things that would show me that we still intended to shoot for the stars – simple things like responding to emails and keeping others informed about what we’ve been working on to make sure we’re all on the same page, making sure we’re working as a team and not as lone rangers (of which I was the most guilty). I’ve seen some improvement in these areas, not as much as I’d like but it’s a start. And I know that as I’m working on the recording end of things they’re working to put together our summer tour – we already have shows lined up in Portland and LA with more prospects dangling in the air.
And the cool thing about working in Seattle is that we’ve found some really talented individuals who really want to help us:
I really do believe that we can make it, that we can be an unstoppable monster of a band. And the amazing thing is that along the way, we’ve found some great people who believe in us as well – a savvy manager, a web marketing guru, a dope web designer (new website coming soon), and a photographer talented enough to make the monkeys in our band actually look like rock stars (no small feat, I assure you). And this is in addition to having an amazing videographer who’s already shot two amazing music videos for us (see here and here…or here if those links don’t work).
We’ve been blessed with resources that most bands only dream of. On top of this, because of the new avenues that the internet has opened, lots of the old barriers to stardom have come tumbling down. None of the old rules apply anymore – ask any crusty record exec and they’ll tell you that they have no idea what their industry will look like five years from now. We are poised on the leading edge of a music marketing revolution. It will be a lot of chaos and a lot of false starts and dead ends. Some bands will get screwed, some will soar. It’s going to be a bumpy, turbulent ride but I’m on board for better or for worse. And I’m betting big on better.